Lawsuit Filed: Woman Develops Multiple Pressure Sores as a Result of Facility’s Negligence

Montebello, Calif. — After suffering a head injury, Maria Lopez was admitted to the skilled nursing facility Rio Hondo Subacute & Nursing Center for rehabilitative treatment. It is alleges in the complaint that unfortunately, Rio Hondo Subacute & Nursing Center’s goal was to maximize on unlawful profits at the expense of the health and safety of its residents by understaffing the facility, and in doing so Lopez developed painful, infected and avoidable pressure sores.

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit against Rio Hondo Subacute & Nursing Center for elder abuse, negligence, and negligent hiring and supervision.

“Rather than disclose the wound that Maria developed under the facility’s care, it appears that from the facts as presently known that Rio Hondo Subacute & Nursing Center concealed this information in violation of California State and Federal Regulations, which mandate nursing facilities to promptly and properly address pressure sore development given their significant danger to the health and safety of elder and infirm citizens of this state,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “It certainly seems clear based on the information currently available that the facility flat-out ignored these requirements and wrongfully withheld care, which ultimately could have prevented Maria’s sores from the painful evolution of worsening.”

Allegations and Background

Lopez has a history of various medical conditions, including congestive heart failure, head injuries, a collapsed lung, and incontinence of both bowel and bladder, and was also non-ambulatory and unable to eat without a breathing tube.

In April 2015, Lopez was admitted to the facility after receiving treatment for a head injury. She had received a tracheotomy and was stabilized, but was sent to the facility to receive rehabilitative treatment and to be weaned off the trachea tube.

The lawsuit alleges that upon Lopez’s admission, the facility received her fully aware of her condition, knowing that she would require extensive assistance with all of her activities of daily living. At the same time she was admitted, the lawsuit states that Lopez’s physician ordered that she be turned and repositioned every two hours, monitored for signs and symptoms of skin breakdown and infection, monitored for dehydration and malnutrition, and provided with good peri-care.

However, according to the lawsuit, throughout the entirety of Lopez’s stay, the facility failed to provide her with the required care as ordered by her physician. They allegedly left her in her own urine and feces for extended periods of time, failed to provide proper assistance with personal hygiene, failed to ensure she was repositioned, and failed to provide her adequate nutrition and hydration.

The lawsuit alleges that as a predictable result of the facility’s neglect, Lopez developed three severe and avoidable Stage IV pressure sores on the back of her legs and another on her hip. She also developed a fourth sore on her foot. The lawsuit also states that while there were clear indications of malnutrition, the staff continually failed to create or implement required interventions to encourage food intake or hydration, despite knowing that her sore would progressively get worse – which it did, becoming infected down to the bone.

On July 14, 2016, Lopez suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the hospital, where she required several debridement surgeries and blood transfusions for her wounds. It was only at the emergency room that Lopez’s family and physician were notified of the existence of the wounds. By that point, her sores had progressed to Stage IV, leaving her at a constant risk of infection.

Furthermore, the lawsuit states that throughout Lopez’s stay, the facility never took any measures to wean her off her trachea tube as they were supposed to do. She also sustained unintended weight gain due to her congestive heart failure, and underwent severe swelling of her ankles, which went untreated for months.